The Impact of Online Campaigns in Vegan Outreach: An Interview with Claudio Pomo of Essere Animali

Essere Animali, an animal rights and vegan organization based in Italy that is dedicated to information-sharing to overcome exploitation of animals, is changing the world for farm animals with their campaigns, which include undercover investigations into animal welfare issues as well as support and guidance on vegan living. Claudio Pomo, online campaign manager for Essere Animali, shared with VegFund how online campaigns can effectively challenge consumer attitudes.

Using Facebook Ads Manager, Essere Animali gained more than 3.3 million impressions in June from Italian men (ages 16–54/16–35), women (ages 16–54/16–35), and both genders together using the two same age groups, measuring a cost-per-click (CPC) of €0.05 ($0.06 U.S) and €0.02 ($0.02 U.S.) for all campaigns — which is incredibly cost-effective! Essere Animali’s continued goal is to maintain a similar CPC with the objective of reaching more than 4 million impressions.

We will take a more detailed look at how Facebook Ads Manager works after comments from an interview with Claudio Pomo, Essere Animali‘s Campaigns Manager.

Insights from Claudio Pomo, Essere Animali’s Online Campaigns Manager

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VegFund: What are the reasons for the demographic, age, and gender you targeted? Did you arrive at any interesting findings through targeting these?

CP: The age demographic was chosen based on what seemed to be the most promising. International research shows that young people are the individuals most likely to change their diet for ethical reasons, which is the objective we are pursuing with our ads. Polls among Italians proved it: per capita consumption of meat in Italy has lowered by 10% in the last six years, and this trend has been led mostly by millennials. So the choice for our ads was quite easy.

As for gender, we started with test groups of male-only and female-only of the same age and also tested the same ad for both male and female genders together. After a few months, we saw slightly better results with the female-only group, but more testing is needed before we can draw clear conclusions from this.

This result supports other research showing that females are more eager to adopt a vegan or a vegetarian lifestyle and are more interested in animal rights in general.

Regardless of this supporting research, even if one gender group achieves better results and lower CPC, we think that there is still importance in targeting the other gender group, investing less, and testing the content to see what works best.

VegFund: Could you provide us with examples of the Facebook ad campaigns that you ran throughout June? What were some of your reasons for creating these particular ads?

CP: We advertised some of the best-performing videos tested in previous months. These are both sad videos from our investigations and happy animal videos showing the emotions and capabilities of farmed animals that people often ignore. One short video of our footage from Italian farms — very sad and highly emotional, but not graphic — has been the best-performing video to date and was designed to work well with people not informed about these issues. So far, it is our most successful video content.

During June, we also tested images and links. With the right picture and good copy, a link can grab lots of attention. In one ad, we linked to an article on our website. The reason for this choice was to try to bring people towards a better platform for communication. The website is a space with much less distraction compared with social media, enabling people to delve deeper into the issue, finding more information and useful links or downloadable material. This type of content may reach fewer people than video content, but I think it can achieve better results overall.

VegFund: Can you offer some tips and best practices for other activists working on online campaigns to achieve low CPCs?

CP: Videos are surely the best content and a must! This is nothing new, but we see it when we try to use other content (links, images, etc.). Videos always win.

Short videos work much better than longer ones, especially when we look at the number of viewers who watch the whole video or most of it (most of the views in Facebook are just a few seconds in length). The perfect video is less than one minute long and should be minimal in terms of graphic content. This kind of graphic content can gain a lot of views, but most videos are too short to have a real impact because people tend to stop them after just a few seconds. The attention span on social media is getting lower every year, so it is vital that we adjust our communication tactics to get the most out of these channels.

Happy videos of farmed animals doing unexpected things work very well too and are important. Other videos get people to understand what happens in farms and slaughterhouses, but happy videos help them empathize with animals and relate to them as individuals who have feelings.

If there is some content that we find relevant, we always test it.

VegFund: Can you provide any further insight into the best-performing groups during your first months of tests?

CP: The best-performing group we created is female-only, ages 16–35, with interests in companion animals, cooking, and food, health, wellness, yoga, and the environment. People in this demographic, we think, can be more interested in the suffering of animals in factory farms or the impact of eating habits on our health and the planet. This target audience, we hope, also consists of people who are more eager to challenge their eating habits — the ultimate result we want to achieve.

Facebook Ads Manager requires a little research before you’ll feel confident using it, but it’s becoming more user-friendly by the day as it gains popularity. It’s worthwhile spending time learning about it for your online campaign efforts. Read on for an overview of how it works.

Facebook Ads Manager and Cost-per-Click

Facebook Ads Manager lets activists set up online campaigns that:

  • measure results
  • test different audiences, and
  • identify which advertisements perform better in terms of cost-per-click (CPC) and impression acquired.

“Impressions” refers to the number of times a web page or element on a web page (such as an ad) has been viewed or appears on a page of search results. “Cost-per-click” measures the revenue a “publisher” (anyone who creates and places an ad) receives each time someone clicks on the publisher’s ad.

An online campaign using Facebook Ads Manager involves creating one or more advertisement. A campaign manager chooses one advertising objective for each campaign and defines a target audience(s) (for example, demographic, genders, age ranges, lookalike audiences), budget, schedule, bidding (which can focus on impressions, conversions, views, or engagement), and placement (where you want your ad to appear).

You can learn more about the Facebook Ads Manager here.

 

Thanks again to Claudio at Essere Animali for taking time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing what else Essere Animali has planned in the coming months. Stay up-to-date with their latest activity on Facebook and Twitter.

Find out more about how VegFund can support you with online campaigns today! We’ll delve further into some more of our grantees’ online campaign successes in the coming months, so watch this space.

Part 3: Lessons from 10 Successful Facebook Campaigns

This final blog in our social media series explores several extremely popular Facebook pages. Each of these pages have attracted anywhere between one hundred thousand to eighty million fans. We do not endorse any of the following companies or their products, but we can learn from them. Our hope is that the techniques that they use will spark creative ideas for your own online vegan advocacy campaigns.

American Red Cross

Likes: 592,178
Talking about this: 9,943
Cool feature: Two-way conversations to build relationships

The American Red Cross is a great example of a non-profit that successfully uses social media. They use Facebook and Twitter to have two-way conversations with community members, volunteers, and the media; in doing so, they build strong relationships, get feedback on what they do well and how they can improve, and help spread awareness about their programs (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011). The Red Cross’ southern region chapter uses social media to share volunteer opportunities and events with their fans, while other chapters use it to recruit new volunteers and relay information during crisis situations (Briones, et al., 2011). They also use social media to build relationships with local TV stations and newspapers, which has helped them respond to disasters more quickly. In turn, the media follows the Red Cross and contacts them to generate news stories (Briones, et al., 2011). You can follow the Red Cross’ example and use Facebook and other forms of social media to build relationships and establish trust. You can also follow other animal rights groups to find out the latest developments and spread the word on your own page.

Burt’s Bees

Likes: 2,273,163
Talking about this: 95,361
Cool feature: Inside look at their company and products

Burt’s Bees provides a look at the inner workings of their company and products through the use of videos and photos, which makes fans feel welcome and establishes trust (Porterfield, 2010). If you feel comfortable enough, you can do the same for your page by sharing your own story and experiences with vegan living and animal rights. In addition to posting “inside look” status updates on your page, you can also create a special tab with videos and photos of you and the people who volunteer for your page.

Coca-Cola

Likes: 80,101, 225
Talking about this: 665,948
Cool feature: Fun competitions

Coca-Cola gets their fans involved with their page by running fun competitions, such as the Share a Coke® Valentine’s Day Competition. They asked fans to submit photos of themselves with their loved one while sharing a Coke. The fans who submitted the most creative photos won personalized sets of Coke bottles. You can try asking your fans to post photos of themselves at vegan restaurants and farm sanctuaries, which will help spread the word about these places, and get your fans more involved with your page. If you decide to run competitions on your page, remember to make it easy to join (i.e., have only a few steps to join), easy to share so more people will find out about it, and most important of all, make it fun (Porterfield, 2010)!

Jones Soda

Likes: 1,013,021
Talking about this: 1,515
Cool features: Tabs for different types of social media; weekly polls

Jones Soda knows that fans have different preferences for the way that they communicate and so they provide multiple options on their page (Porterfield, 2010). They have tabs for Instagram and YouTube, as well as tabs for their videos and events, and a tab called Caps for Gear! where fans can trade in Jones Soda caps for t-shirts, hats, watches, and more. They also run weekly polls, which is a great way to interact with fans, learn about the audience, and find out what they want to see on the page (Porterfield, 2010). If you use more than one type of social media, make sure that your fans are aware of it and know how to find you on the other sites. It might be fun to borrow the “Caps for Gear” idea and create something like “Go Veg for Gear!” in which fans can turn in vegan food product labels in exchange for vegan buttons, t-shirts, books, and other such rewards. This will give fans an added incentive to try out vegan foods!

Livescribe

Likes: 132,023
Talking about this: 371
Cool feature: Customer support tab

Livescribe’s page has a customer support tab, in which fans can ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and give praise. Other people can see these posts and get answers to their questions, as well as reviews of Livescribe products. You might consider adding a Frequently Asked Questions tab to your page with information about veganism and links to restaurant guides, veg starter kits, and other helpful resources.

Oreo

Likes: 35,758,226
Talking about this: 92,242
Cool Feature: Oreo Creme Canvas tab

Oreo has a fun tab called Oreo Creme Canvas, where you can create a unique image on the creme of an Oreo and share with your friends. The team behind Oreo’s Facebook page came up with a clever way to use this tab to help build up their fan base; you have to “Like” their page before you can create a canvas. Then you can choose to upload a photo, or fill in the canvas with text and icons. You can create a farm-animal related tab where fans put their faces where the animals’ faces should be, or type messages into word bubbles. If you choose to do this, you may want to include a message that states that inappropriate photos and messages that fans create will not be posted on your Facebook page.

Red Bull

Likes: 43,052,387
Talking about this: 348,533
Cool features: Games; welcome tab

The crew behind Red Bull’s page understands their target audience and they know what gets the best response on their page (Porterfield, 2010). One of their unique features is a tab with several sports-themed games for their fans. They also created a welcome tab with an eye-catching image and a clear call to action to “Like” their page. Creative design can have a BIG impact on people who visit your page; it may be worth it to spend a little bit of money on your page design (Porterfield, 2010). You can also organize your page by making tabs for different areas, such as videos, contests, polls, and events.

Skittles

Likes: 25,887,257
Talking about this: 38,009
Cool feature: Well-developed brand voice

Skittles’ Facebook page is entertaining, colorful, and funny. They have done a great job of developing a brand voice for their page. They tell fans that they might become The Rainbow’s BFF if they post Skittles-themed photos on their page. Then they add funny statements to go with the photos. Try to develop a brand voice for your page. Know your audience so that you can create a voice that they will connect with, and make sure to keep your tone and language consistent (Schwab, 2011).

Starbucks

Likes: 36,329,214
Talking about this: 480,828
Cool feature: International tab; locations tab; open jobs tab

Starbucks created a special International tab for people to join their country’s Starbuck’s community Facebook page. They also have tabs for their locations and for open jobs. You can borrow their idea and add a tab with links to the Facebook pages of vegan organizations, vegan meetup groups, and farm sanctuaries worldwide. You might also consider adding a tab for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Uno Chicago Grill

Likes: 132,202
Talking about this: 279
Cool features: Great visual appeal through photos; Happy Mutt’s Day album for fans

Uno Chicago Grill’s page uses appealing photos of food to entice their fans (Porterfield, 2010). They know how much people love their dogs so they created an album titled “Happy Mutt’s Day” where fans can post photos of their dogs, which is a great way to connect fans to their page. When you create posts, try to use the most appealing images. Look for bright colors, appetizing photos of vegan food, and the cutest animals. And find ways to make your fans part of your page!

We hope this blog series helps you with your activism, gives you some new ideas, and inspires you to use social media as a way to help animals. We would love to hear about your experiences with social media campaigns and we wish you the best of luck!

References

Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 37-43.

Porterfield, A. (2010, August 31). Top 10 Facebook pages and why they’re successful. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-10-facebook-pages/

Schwab, S. (2011, March 31). Finding your brand voice. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/finding-your-brand-voice/

 

Part 1: Creating Engaging Social Media Posts

As animal advocates, our goal is to educate as many people as possible about the realities of animal agriculture and encourage them to make choices that are kind to animals and the planet. As such, social media is one of our most powerful tools because it enables us to reach large numbers of people very quickly. By creating Facebook and other social media posts that are engaging (i.e., generate a lot of comments, likes, and shares), our reach will expand even further. And, it doesn’t take much extra effort.

In addition to reaching people with our message, we also need to build relationships with those who follow us on social media networks. By doing so, we establish trust, which can go a long way in influencing positive lifestyle changes.

What Types of Facebook Posts are Most Engaging?

According to Smith (2013), posts that include photos and status updates have the greatest reach. Educational posts and posts with videos tend to get a lot of likes and shares, and posts that ask questions often get many comments (Greenstein, n.d.). However, engagement will vary from page to page, so you may want to experiment and see how people respond to different types of posts. If you manage a Facebook page, you can find out what works best by going to the “See Insights” tab and then clicking on the “Posts” tab. Once there, click on the “Post Types” tab. You will then find the average reach and engagement by type of post.

In our experience, posts that reveal the shocking truth about the way animals are treated are extremely engaging and reach quite far. If you do post any disquieting information, photos, or videos, be sure to suggest actions that help solve the problem; research has demonstrated that this is one of the best ways to help people change (Barach, 1984). There are many actions you can encourage people to take, but just make sure that they are practical. If the action seems too difficult, it may not have any effect on the audience. You also always want to make sure that you’re complying with the social media platform’s guidelines, as certain types of content are sometimes prohibited.

How to Get More Comments, Likes, and Shares

  • It may seem too good to be true, but if you politely ask for comments, likes, and shares, users will often comply (Greenstein, 2012; Smith, 2013). However, don’t overdo it or you may drive people away (A. Malhotra, C. K. Malhotra, See, & Business, 2013). Asking once or twice a week should be fine, but experiment to see what works best on your page. It’s recommended that you ask for only one thing (i.e., comment, like, or share) per post (Smith, 2013). For example, you can say something like: “If you like this recipe, ‘Share’ with your friends!” or “Tell us what you think in the comments.”

  • Keep users interested by posting regularly (Williams & Page, 2011). Try posting once or twice a week at first to see how your fans react. Drell (2012) stated that some brands have been successful with one post per day. However, many have found that making two or more posts per day can reduce engagement. If you only post a few times a week you can still keep your fans engaged by “liking”  and responding to their comments (Drell, 2012). Most importantly, be sure to emphasize quality over quantity when posting.

  • In your posts, try to convey messages in as few words as possible; research has shown that shorter posts generally get more likes (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Aim for 100 characters or less to get the most engagement, and whenever possible include compelling photos, which will make your posts even more effective (Pierce, 2012).

  • People love to associate themselves with winners, so share milestones, achievements, and success stories (Malhotra., et al., 2013). You can post about the growth of your page or awards you have received for your activism. You can also share heartwarming stories about rescued farm animals.

  • Posts with questions placed at the end receive 15% more engagement compared to questions asked in the beginning (Pierce, 2012). Ask your fans what they would like to see on your page or what their favorite meat alternatives are.

  • Make sure to keep up with current events, holidays, and other important dates; these types of posts are seen as more personable (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Try posting vegan versions of traditional recipes around holidays. You can also share information about breaking undercover investigations.

  • Humanize your messages by showing emotion; humorous posts are particularly effective (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Post funny photos and videos of farm animals.

  • Try to see through the eyes of your audience and create posts that will appeal to them. People who use Facebook typically like posts that educate them, keep them informed and entertained, and help them interact and connect with others (Lachance, 2013).

  • To gain their trust and loyalty, always make sure to respond to any messages users send within a 24 hour period (Williams & Page, 2011).

  • Encourage discussion, but don’t try to control everything that is said. There will probably be negative comments, but your page will be seen as genuine (Savitt, 2011). Of course, your page should be a place where people feel safe and comfortable. It is alright for users to have opposing points of view, but you may want to consider banning or blocking anyone who becomes hostile or threatening. You can even post your ground rules on the About section of the page.

  • Make your page fun! You can try hosting events, running contests, and featuring your fans (Smith, 2013). Post photos of your fans and a short story about their path towards veganism. Of course, you’ll always want to be sure that you know, and are complying with, the rules of the social media platform.

Don’t miss the next blog in this series! We’ll cover how to identify your target audience, find out what appeals to them, and tailor the messaging accordingly.

References

Barach, J. A. (1984). Applying marketing principles to social causes. Business Horizons, 27(4), 65-69.

Drell, L. (2012, June 7). 10 Facebook marketing mistakes to avoid. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/06/07/facebook-marketing-mistakes/

Greenstein, H. (n.d.). A marketer’s guide to the new Facebook. Retrieved from http://images.prsoftware.vocus.com/Web/Vocus/%7Bca91784d-8997-494c-8237-8e77fad39d39%7D_Vocus_-_New_Facebook_Guide.pdf

Lachance, G. (2013, May 11). Top 10 must read tips to run a successful Facebook business page. Retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/genevieve-lachance/1454711/successful-facebook-business-page-top-10-must-read-tips

Malhotra, A., Malhotra, C. K., See, A., & Business, S. (2013). How to create brand engagement on Facebook. MIT Sloan Management Review, 54(2), 18-20.

Pierce, S. (2012, October 10). 5 ways to improve your Facebook engagement. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/improve-facebook-engagement/

Savitt, K. (2011, April 8). Three ways companies can reach Generation Z. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/04/08/marketing-generation-z/

Smith, M. (2013, June 2). 10 proven ways to improve your Facebook reach. Retrieved from http://www.marismith.com/proven-ways-improve-your-facebook-reach/

Williams, K. C., & Page, R. A. (2011). Marketing to the Generations. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 3(1), 37-53.